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Portfolio Assessment

What is portfolio assessment?

Purposeful collection of student work that

has been selected and organized to show
student learning progress (developmental
portfolio) or to show samples of students
best work (showcase portfolio)
Portfolio assessment can be used in
addition to other assessments or the sole
source of assessment.
Some schools even use portfolio
assessment as a basis for high school

What is the purpose of portfolios?

To give students the opportunity to
reflect on their growth over a period
of time
To use as a basis for assigning
grades (based on effort)
To use as a basis for communication
with parents
As placement/entrance requirements

What do portfolios contain?

Developmental Portfolio (or working portfolios)
Samples of independent work (initial work
compared to more current work)
Evaluations by teacher, peer, self
Reflections on the growth over a period of time
(e.g., I used to be unsure about punctuation,
e.g., where does the comma really go?, but now,
I feel comfortable in making decisions about
punctuation, and I am right most of the time!)
May be used for instructional purposes and may
include various stages of products, various drafts,

What do portfolios contain?

Finished portfolio
Samples of best independent work
Evaluations by teacher, peer, self
Samples organized according to
some system (e.g., creative writing,
scientific writing)
Usually used to provide a summative
evaluation and is standard format.

Different purposes of Portfolios

All content in a portfolio must be
linked to the learning
In addition to learning objectives,
there are many general purposes of

Enhancing student learning (little

emphasis on content, more emphasis on
student reflection)

Different purposes of Portfolios

Assigning a grade (give clear guidelines to
ensure that the portfolio consists of standard
Displaying current achievement (pick the best
complete work)
Demonstrating progress (show changes over
time, include various drafts)
Showcasing student work (only best work)
Documentation (showing work at variety of
Show finished work
Show works in progress

Characteristics of portfolios used

for instructional purposes

Focus is on development of self-evaluation

Teacher and students must meet to
discuss evaluations (teachers can get a
good window into students understanding
of their progress).
In addition to improving instruction, the
goal is to help student internalize criteria
for excellence.
Can be used for student-directed
conferences with parents

Characteristics of portfolios used

for assessment purposes
Focus is on evaluation of student
work in its entirety and certifying
Teacher should provide student with
clear guidelines about content of
portfolio and scoring criteria.
If used to assess program goals, the
content and organization of portfolios
must be highly standardized.

Examples of portfolios for different


Charts, graphs created
Projects, examples, posters
Lab reports
Research reports
Student reflections (either weekly,
monthly, or bi-monthly)

Examples of portfolios for different


Samples of problem solving
Written explanations of how to solve
Charts, graphs
Computer analyses conducted
Student reflections (either weekly,
monthly, or bi-monthly)

Examples of portfolios for different


English/Language Arts

Reading log
Different types of writing

Vocabulary achievements

Book summaries/reports
Dramatizations, creative endings to stories
Student reflections (either weekly, monthly, or

What should the reflections


Reflections should focus on:

What all have done in the past _____?
What have I learned in the past _____?
What do I need to learn next ______?

Sometimes, you can give students

additional guidelines e.g, the elements
of the learning objectives that they should
address (organization, punctuation,
coherence, etc.)

Guidelines for portfolio entries

Give students the
Purpose of the portfolio
Time period that it should span
Name people who will have access to
Description/list of types of work to
If applicable, what criteria will be
used to evaluate portfolio

Guidelines for portfolio entries


Ensure that you allow for flexibility

(however, for summative/showcase
portfolios, you might have to include strict
guidelines for organization)
Ensure that students have access to
resources to construct portfolios (e.g.,
technology, materials)
Ground rules for working independently or
Guidance on physical structure of
How portfolios fit into their grades

Who decides what goes into a


The student choice is the primary

determinant of entries in a portfolio.
Teacher guides by giving a general
structure to the portfolio. Student and
teacher may be asked to explain why they
selected each entry.
Teacher may meet with student regularly
to reflect on student growth. (S)he
provides input, student reflects on growth,
and they talk about agreements,
disagreements on evaluations

How do we decide what to include

in the portfolio?

Start with early works to provide a basis

for comparison of later work
Include a variety of works in each
Include works that reflect the learning
objectives that would need to be taught
Include works that address the criteria
that may be used for judging the portfolio
Works should be complex (assess many
different elements) to enable reflections

How do we decide what to include

in the portfolio?

Entries should be selected by student

Because in selecting, student has to
apply a higher level of
understanding/thinking about his own

Portfolio should be assessed using

criteria developed ahead of time

Where should we store the

Usually, portfolios should be
manageable (not serve as a
collection of ALL of students work)
and should be within reach of a
student (preferably stored in the
They should be referred to regularly
teacher should provide for time to
place entries in portfolio

How is a portfolio organized?

It may be organized by concepts,
skills, subjects, learning objectives
whatever seems appropriate
For example, in writing, it may
organized as different types of

Evaluating entries in portfolio

Teacher and student both
independently provide evaluation of
Entries in portfolio should be
evaluated using standards from
learning objectives

How do we evaluate the portfolio?

What is important for the students to
have learned over 4 months (or 8
months, or 1 unit)?
Based on what is important (comes
from learning objectives), decide on
elements of portfolio to evaluate.
We can develop ratings for each

How do we evaluate the portfolio?

For example scientific thinking can be
rated on the following scale:
4 = conclusions are based on
guesses, hypotheses are set
based on valid reasons
3 = More than half the conclusions are
based on hypotheses.

Analytical or Holistic?

If its a developmental portfolio, use analytic

rating scale

If its a showcase portfolio, you can use holistic

rating scale

No rating scale is perfect. No rubric is perfect. As

you use these, you will continue to improve

In evaluating a portfolio, remember


Share the rubric with students before they

work on the portfolio
Allow students to reflect on their portfolio,
using the rubric
Ensure that you have checks for biases
(e.g., rate portfolio with another teacher)
Rate portfolio without looking at student
When making major decisions based on
evaluations, ensure that you use more
than one rater and all raters are trained

In sum

Entries in portfolio must be selected by

Entries are biased toward selecting the
best work
Reflections are an important part of the
Criteria for evaluating portfolio must be
shared with student beforehand
Portfolios can be an excellent
communication tool between students and
(a) teacher; (b) parents; (c ) peers